His name was Jabez.
We know little of him in the Old Testament.
In fact, had he not been a man of prayer, we likely would have never even heard of him at all.
His background, reading “between the lines,” must have been like that of the family of Elimelech, who lost everything they had.
No hope, really.
Here are the Jabez Verses of Scripture:
“Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” 1st Chronicles 4:9-10
Jabez’s brothers were not very honourable! Likely some “sin,” well known and socially despised, had “ruined” the family, their reputation and testimony.
Likely the “disgrace” occurred even before Jabez was born! His Mother, apparently unashamedly, named him (at birth)the equivalent of our word “Painful.” Or even “sorrowful!”
Yes, “blessings” were long gone for this Hebrew clan, family.
Through either debt or abdication … the family inheritance (from the days of Joshua even) had been squandered, overtaken, stripped.
And “the evil,” whatever that monster (sin) in the family background might have been … was a constant threat to them years and years afterward! Never dying sin!
“Sorrow upon sorrow,” as Paul described in Philippians 2:27, had gripped the family, and always would!
But Jabez prayed!
A Jabez who still had a sliver of “hope!” He must have maintained a shred of character, “honor.” He still held out the possibility of the “Grace” of God anyway!
Somehow God, on occasion, lifts a “diamond” out of a “coal mine!”
This we have here.
Or maybe, better yet, God changes a “chunk of coal” into a sparkling “diamond,” or some other precious “jewel!”
Meanwhile, during all his years of upbringing in that environment, in that family home, growing up … he was called daily, every day many times no doubt, “Jabez,” or PAINFUL, SORROWFUL, just a hundred fifty (or whatever) pounds of TROUBLE!
That’s our Text, so far … “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow …”
But, and here’s why we’re studying the man … “Jabez called on the God of Israel!”
The verb “called on” translates “qara,” a Hebrew verb meaning “to cry out loud!” This is not silent, but earnest, fervent prayer. With all his heart, Jabez pleads four requests!
By the way, the somewhat unusual designation for God, “the God of Israel,” meaning “the God of Jacob,” is only found about 90 times in Scripture. It is the God Who blessed (even) Jacob that night long ago, that wrestling match, Divinity versus humanity! See Genesis 32 for the details.
If God could bless old crafty Jacob … surely God could bless the likes of Jabaz, even with the terrible load he was carrying!
So, God … “bless me indeed!”
I think the emphasis might be on “Bless ME indeed!”
In an un-blessable family, God bless me, at least to some small measure, please! The verb “to bless” is “barak,” essentially meaning “come down here and help me, dear Lord!”
Lord, let me help turn the tide!
The Jabez prayed, “Enlarge my coast.” Give us back our family property! The land Dad lost, a Dad never mentioned as being alive any longer. Oh, the shame of men such as Elimelech and Eli and now Jabez’s Dad, all failures according to the Bible! But this boy (Jabez) wants his heritage restored. A Kinsman Redeemer named Boaz got Naomi’s family’s land restored! Jabez is merely appealing to A GREATER KINSMAN REDEEMER, the Lord Jesus Christ!
He’s asking not merely for land, the original land, but maybe even more! “Enlarge” actually means “to make great, to increase.”
Then “That Thy Hand might be with me.” The noun for “hand” here can mean the closed hand, the fist of one’s hand! Is he asking God to protect him, the family once again? To “touch” him, as Nehemiah loved to say, “for good!” The preposition used here is “im” (“with” in English), particularly emphasizing “companionship, fellowship,” Mercy! “God, please come be with us again!”
Then the “crux” of the prayer, “That Thou wouldest keep me from evil.” This is it, the “evil” that had stalked his family for a lifetime! “God, deliver me from past sins. Strengthen me to stay away from that old paths!” Help me overcome the sins of the fathers!
Lastly, “That it grieve me not.” That I be delivered from my namesake, from sorrow and pain and sadness! Reverse my life’s path! Turn things around! Please!
TRULY … A LIFE CHANGING PRAYER!
And did God answer the requests?
Back to our Text again, “And God granted him that which he requested.” Amazing!
1. God blessed him indeed!
2. God enlarged his coast. We elsewhere now read of the “land of Jabez!” Whereas before there was no mention of land associated with the family, it having apparently been confiscated or forfeited. And get this. The city Jabez eventually called home became a godly city! A residence of Scribes and holy men who loved God’s Word! “And the families of the scribes which DWELT AT JABEZ; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab.” 1st Chronicles 2:55
The “Rechabites” were outcasts, too!
But godly men, nonetheless!
3. Yes, God’s hand rested on Jabez!
4. And the “evil” is mentioned no more! It’s gone!
5. Last of all, no more “sorrow or pain” for Jabez, things now of the past!
ALL I NEED SAY NOW IS … WHAT GOD DID FOR JABEZ, HE CAN DO FOR YOU … AND ME! AND YOUR FAMILY, AND MINE!
Just pray, folks, pray!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell